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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 6:56 pm 
The Artist formerly known as Rhoenix
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Watching the chaos suddenly unfold around them, the crew on the bridge of the Gilgamesh at first were silent, but were already hard at work.

Captain Solheim sighed. "I have to, don't I?"

Commander Inzeti looked at him once with a raised eyebrow. "The fleet commander, and the fleet subcommander's ships have already engaged. Can we do less?"

Though he didn't reply in words, Captain Solheim nodded as he, Lieutenant Adranis, and Lieutenant Commander Nevola worked out a battle plan.

Taking into account the spherical tactical viewer, the ship appeared motionless for the first few moments of the cacophony of battle. Abruptly, the Gilgamesh spun about and flew at full speed toward the smaller escort craft of the pirate ships, the distance to their targets shrinking with shocking speed. The destroyer's gun ports for the Defiant-class' infamous phaser cannons opened up, and were fully powered before the small destroyer was halfway to its first target.

Quote:
Battle plan: Neutralize any smaller craft firing at fleet ships. Ships not attacking any ship in the fleet will not be destroyed.

_________________
"Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes."

- William Gibson


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 7:14 pm 
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"Where the hell is he?!"

"I can't tell sir," said the sensor officer. "There's too much interference."

"Filter it out, Ensign," snapped Lt. Luther, none too kindly.

"I can't!" replied the harried sensor officer. "Weapons fire, plasma, some kind of dampening fields, there's just too much to get a clean signal through."

"Then find me an unclean signal!" yelled Lt. Commander Ereshal. "I don't care if you can't get absolute confirmation, tell me where the Commander is! At least what ship he's on."

"Fragmentary readings from both ships, I can't sort Commander Kalpov's signal from the noise. I think he's still aboard the S'harien."

"Sir," called the comm officer, "I'm getting a message from the Immortal. They're... they're ordering us to fall back."

Ereshal and Luther both turned around as though they had been slapped in the face. Luther's jaw actually dropped. Ereshal's antennae looked like they were trying to rip themselves loose from her head. "They what?!" she asked, incredulously.

"Correction, sirs, they advise that we fall back."

It took Luther several seconds to formulate an answer. "Tell them that I got a piece of 'advice' for them."

"Tell them to ram their advice up their impulse exhaust port," said Ereshal, hissing between clenched teeth in a voice that augured searing rage.

"Sir?" asked the comm officer hesitantly.

"Tell those psychotic excuses for Starfleet Officers that we are not falling back and abandoning the commander on a Romulan death machine in the middle of a firefight in an active plasma storm! Tell them that right now, and then cut the channel, and I don't want to hear any more from that ship unless they fire on us!"

"Yes sir!" yelped the comm officer as he leaped to put those orders into action.

"I've got the commander," said the sensor officer. "Signal's weak, but I think he's on the S'harien's umbilical."

"Get a transporter lock and prepare to - "

"We can't beam him out, the pirate tender's shields are still up."

"You just said he was on the S'harien!"

"He is, the S'harien's sharing a shield bubble with the tender, we can't beam through it!"

"God damnit, I told him not to go over there!" snapped Luther. "I'm gonna kill that sonofabitch."

"Ensign, find me a way through those shields," said Ereshal.

"Without the fractal keys we can't beam through active hostile shields, sir."

"Then close range and blast a hole through them."

"Shields that thick we can't just knock down," said Luther. "Those shields are Romulan starbase-grade."

Ereshal turned on Luther, antennae stabbing the air like daggers, blind eyes staring into the larger man's soul. "Lieutenant, I don't care if you have to put on an EVA suit and rip the shields open with your bare hands, knock them down."

*----------------------------------------------------*

"Kalpov to Argonaut!" shouted the man at the edge of the ruined umbilical. "Argonaut come in! Fall back! Fall back, Argonaut, this is Kalpov, can you hear me?!"

Kalpov stood at the edge of the umbilical, the forcefield crackling inches before his face, filling the airlock with the smell of acrid, electrical smoke. Kalpov ignored it, as he ignored the low moans of the Gorn marine who lay at his side, having evidently broken something. Most of the others had been beamed out directly via what he had to assume were the S'harien's transporters. He certainly hoped it wasn't those of the pirate. He himself had not been so-beamed. He knew why, and that knowledge should have been front and center to his attention at present, but it was not.

Before him loomed a sight among sights, great ships majestically turning, spinning, dancing through the flame-scorched space, deploying their weapons in arcs of light and pinpoints of death. Ships were on fire, ships were exploding, disintegrating as beams of energy the size of shuttlecraft bored into them. Bursts of green and orange energy weapons were punctuated with the red starburst of photon torpedoes, the green of plasma, and the silver of quantums. Yet Kalpov was watching none of this, his eyes glued on one of the larger ships in the foreground, a stately Ambassador-class heavy cruiser, her swept hull scored and pockmarked yet still proudly bearing her name, as she lumbered forward, spitting fire into the shields of the pirate tender.

"Argonaut, come in!" he practically shouted, hitting his com badge for the fifth time. "Fall back! Do not engage! Repeat, do not en-"

A flash.

In a world made of fire and dancing lights, this flash was to them what a fusion bomb was to a lit match. Instantly Kalpov saw nothing but white, indistinct, impossibly bright whiteness, washing out fire and ships and energy weapons and everything else. A light so powerful that he could still see it with his eyes closed, so powerful that, for a brief second, he thought that Immortal had fired her Genesis Torpedoes, and that they were all about to die. And then he forgot this thought, for his attention was suddenly monopolized with the minor fact that his retinas had just caught fire.

Protected though he was here by the powerful shields of the Romulan battlecruiser and fleet tender, those shields did not repel visible light, and standing with nothing but an emergency forcefield between him and open space, there were no polarizers or filtration systems to get in the way. And though at the moment he was not thinking of such things, later on it would occur to him that what he had seen was no Genesis device, but the subatomic cataclysm of an exploding Tricobalt Torpedo, a supernova-in-miniature casting about more visible light in a split second than most stars did in centuries.

He screamed, couldn't really stop himself, and clutched his hands to his eyes, reeling as a stabbing pain like a two red hot pokers drilled into his eye sockets. He felt warm fluid on his hands as his eyes literally burst, the fluid within them boiling from the intense pulse of unfiltered, unpolarized light. Beside him came a terrible reptillian howl, loud and therapodian, as one of the Gorn marines from the Immortal screamed as his own eyes were scorched by the burst of unbelievably intense light. Kalpov was in no position to help him now, the finely-crafted sensory nerves he had formed within his eyes presently engaged in doing exactly what they were meant to do, and flooding his humanoid brain with horrible, crippling sensations of pain, so intense that he almost lost solid form. It was several seconds before he was able to disolve his own optic nerves, and the pain mercifully ceased.

Staggering back from the forcefield, he clutched his hands over his pulverized eyes. No doctor in the galaxy could repair such damage, not were it physical, and so he had to hope that everyone else present had been so distracted or disabled by the same light pulse as to avoid seeing what he was about to do. Concentrating on the mass of pulpy fluid running down his fingers, he absorbed it right through his skin, draining the eyesockets dry in moments, before simply growing a brand new pair of human eyes in the empty sockets. He took several seconds to perfect the re-creation, tinting the irises the right color, contracting the pupils to pinpoints, connecting the retinas and the optic nerves. And then he lowered his suddenly-dry hands, and opened his undamaged eyes, and he was Ivan Kalpov again, whose incredible luck had led him to look away from the blast at just the right moment, and avoid the terrible fate that had overtaken the Gorn.

The Gorn had passed out, which was probably a mercy, and Kalpov crept back to the forcefield, looking back out into space gingerly, half-expecting another burst of light to blind him. What he saw instead was almost worse. Before him loomed the stark profile of the IKS Riskadh, backlit against the plasma storm, spinning slowly in three dimensions with her hull on fire.

*-------------------------------------------------------*

In truth, Riskadh was not actually on fire, but Kalpov could have been forgiven for thinking that she was.

The Klingon Battlecruiser had detected the Tricobalt torpedo inbound, and had turned to meet it head-on, as would have befitted Klingon in temperament even had it not been the correct tactical move. Her point defence had opened fire with waspish hosepipes of disruptor shots. Too late. The torpedo struck Riskadh directly and detonated with the power of a miniature supernova.

Battlecruiser though she was, Riskadh was no Barbarossa, no D'Deridex monster with nigh-impenetrable shields and armor. Despite her fully powered shields, the blow quite nearly stove her bow in. Had the structural integrity field not been re-enforced, it might well have done just that. Her shields, braced against such an impact, barely held against the tides of destruction. Even with the shields, two of Riskadh's disruptors failed entirely, one of her torpedo launchers jammed, and her forward sensor readings simply disintegrated into a hail of static and generalized "interference". The ship bucked like a leaping Targ, her bow forced down, spinning in slow motion as she dove and somersaulted, thrusters struggling to reply. Yet Riskadh's spindly construction (by the standards of battlecruisers) belied great internal strength, her lines designed for the receipt of punishment and the inflicting of more, her shields accustomed to being asked to duel with warships half again larger and twice as armored as she was. Her crew were Klingons, for whom a sudden inversion of gravity and a twenty mile per hour collision with a durasteel bulkhead were considered "refreshing". Casualties in the Klingon sense of the word were almost non-existent, for no warrior worthy of the name would regard such a minor matter as a compound fracture of the tibia to be worth much notice in the middle of battle. Riskadh's thrusters caught her, and arested the spin, and brought her back up to face the tender ship that had wrought this assault, ionized plasma swept up by the Tricobalt explosion running off her shields like rainwater, giving her the appearance, temporarily at least, of a ship wreathed in flames.

Around her, ships exploded, enemy ships, ships fool enough to have fired on one of the Allied vessels in self-defense or defiance or simple panic, and were pounded into indeterminate wreckage by the thunderous main guns of the Vigilence and the Immortal and the Gilgamesh. Had the enemy fleet had time to react as one, had they posessed a coherent battle plan, had they simply all stood and fought, casualties among the allies would have been heavy. But they did not, every ship fighting its own battle, making its own decision. Many ran, some simply stayed silent, and those who fired did so piecemeal, and were crushed in turn. Nameless, faceless ships died in explosions of red and orange, ripped apart by their own power cores. The USS Saladin had joined in the fire against Immortal and was promptly beaten into inert ruin by the Vigilence, torpedoes and phasers deluging her broken hull until there was nothing left. The USS Vesuvius tried to intercept the Gilgamesh as she attacked the remaining escort vessels and was sawn in half for her trouble, the remnants of the once-proud frigate sparking for only seconds before her warp core exploded, vaporizing the remains of the ship. A dozen others from seven different empires died before the rest retreated or were silent.

The tender remained. It remained even as the allied ships fired into her, Humboldt, Spectre, Argonaut, blasting into her shields and attempting to beat them down. They were unsuccessful, for the shields of the Avenger were thick, and the most powerful weapons in the fleet were not turned towards them. Moreover the fire was split, as Spectre fired at the aft quarters of the vessel, and the other ships at the forward ones. Avenger, armed with shields suitable for a medium starbase, did not break before this fire.

S'harien was a bit different. The ships were unshielded towards one another, and there was consequently no defence that Avenger could make against her. Shielded she was. Armored she was not, except by bulk. Every point defense disruptor that S'harien targeted without exception was sumarily wiped out without so much as a fuss. Avenger made no shot in reply, what could light disruptors do to a battlecruiser, her torpedoes blocked by the very bulk of S'harien sitting in their path. Neither did she fire anew at the allied fleet outside her protective shields, waiting, it seemed, for some new devilry.

*-----------------------------------------------------------------*

No sooner had Captain Anderson surrendered, than one of the holograms turned and walked over to the wall, opening a console from a removable pannel, even as the other two disarmed him and pinned his hands behind his back, slapping metal cuffs onto his wrists to ensure complience. Several button presses later, and a shower of transporter sparkles indicated a radical change of scenery.

"Captain!"

It was the voice of an El-Aurien, an angry one, and Anderson found himself suddenly standing in the middle of a large command and control complex, staffed by a score of Orions with one or two other races, most of whom were facing a large viewscreen on the far wall. The viewscreen showed a scene of death and ruin, ships exploding and firing into one another, as tricobalt flashes, cut down by polarizers into reasonable sights, send massive cruisers spinning through space before the enormous bulk of the S'harien settled over the screenshot.

From down a flight of metal stairs that led to a holoprojector matrix strode Shodar Tyran, looking very out of sorts. Flanked by four Orion guards with pulse rifles, he walked up to Anderson with a gaze that could flatten an Andorian Mamoth.

"I knew the Federation capable of any perfidity in the pursuit of their precious ideals, but I had hoped, Captain, that you would be smarter than this. I acted with restraint towards you, and this is how you repay it? Well if it's blood and fire you want, then it's blood and fire you shall receive."

He glanced to one of the Orion officers, who looked up and nodded.

"Fire the Basilisk," he said simply, as he turned his eyes to the viewscreen.

*-----------------------------------------------------------*

The S'harien had no way to know what was coming. There was no sign of a weapon charging, no sensor reading to spot. The Avenger was simply silent one moment, and the next, it fired a beam of concentrated paralysis.

A solid state beam the size of a frigate erupted from one of the Avenger's deflector arrays like a bolt of lightning, and leaped across the gulf to strike S'harien amidships. Unshielded as she was, relative to the fleet tender, those watching may well have braced for the shot to burn into her armored hull. It did not. Rather it cloaked the hull of the S'harien in a crackling blue light field, to effect unknown.

And then one by one, the lights in S'harien's windows began to die.

Her engines cut out, her weapons fell cold, her targeting computers locked and shut down. Aboard her bridge, officers blinked in the dark strobe of emergency lights as the power died and all sensor readings ceased. The structural integrity field collapsed, as did the navigational deflector and the cloaking device's fragile energy fields, lying ready as they were. In less than two seconds, the S'harien went from a proud, defiant battlecruiser, to an inert hunk of metal, floating gently next to her larger cousin.

Like every warship design with even an ounce of thought, S'harien had backup systems, and these kicked in to provide a minimum of services, restoring life support, gravity, some lights. Yet the S'harien remained dead to all control and command, as mechanics in every sector tried to determine what had just happened.

*------------------------------------------------------------*

Aboard the Avenger, the crew of the Pirate tender watched as the Romulan vessel's lights died and her weapons fell cold. Tyran permitted himself a small sigh of what might have been relief, before turning to the captive Captain.

"A modification of the Breen system," he said. "Optimized for capital use by Orion engineers. We call it Basilisk. Now, you will broadcast an order to your fleet to stand down their weapons and fall back, or I will tear that ship apart with cutting beams, send a regiment of troops over to secure what's left, fire my tricobalt torpedoes into your remaining vessels, and shoot you in the head."

Tyran smirked as a tractor beam from the Avenger seized the derelict S'harien and gently began to move it out of the way, exposing the tender's torpedo launchers once more to the requisite firing lines.

"You have ten seconds, Captain."

*------------------------------------------------------------*

*Bang* *Bang* *Bang*

In an un-used section of the crippled Battlecruiser, on an airlock door made of solid duranium, the low, rhythmic sound of blows could be heard, as though someone, or something, were hammering on the door with a battering ram. And yet that could not be, for this airlock led to the umbilical which had been the site of the ill-fated meeting between the allied captains and the pirates. The violent separation had ripped off the external door, and the protective forcefield that had snapped into place in its stead was now dead, thanks to the Basilisk cannon. Anyone left on the other side would have either been explosively vented into space, or simply left to cling to the bare metal of the airlock chamber and asphixiate or freeze in the airless wastes. Nothing could possibly be alive out there, not now.

And yet...

*Bang* *Bang* *Bang*...

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2011 4:22 am 
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Bridge: USS Humboldt


T'Lorn looked through his viewscreen as Cerulean light exploded around the S'harien, and her systems went dark. Only residual heat escaping from her hull. There was only one thing he could say to properly express the situation, though it was in proper vulcan fashion, completely free of inflection.

"Oh, fuck" then his brain began processing what he had just seen, and the consequences.

With the Avenger's shields around her, there was nothing that could be done to protect the S'harien. Effectively, the warbird was being held hostage. There were perhaps a few seconds, and a few seconds only before some sort of demand was made, at which point they would either have to accept the deaths of the ships crew, the capture of the ship.... or meet whatever demand the slaving bastard had to make. Neither option was acceptable.

Those shields must come down, even if it means the destruction of hostages

Then, as if by miracle Ms. Sevrin spoke

"Sir, message from the S'harien, sent just before she went dark. We have the fractal key" She received the transmission a few seconds before the beam hit, and there was another piece missing, but it was enough. It took the computer a few seconds to decode the encryption, which is why there was the almost dramatic delay.

"Transmit it encoded to the other fleet ships, with a suggestion to disable. Science, high powered scans of the ship. Primary: location of transport inhibitor. Secondary:ship schematics for boarding parties, retransmit to fleet as received, sensor probes to assist, signal fleet to assist in scans. Helm and tactical, attack pattern Xi Omega." he spoke in a rapid short hand which conveyed the information but more rapidly. Time was of the essence, there would still be a very short window.

"Aye captain, they responded quickly in unison, their hands already flowing with precision over their respective consoles, issuing commands to the ship's crew and personnel

The little ship came about as fast as her engines, structural integrity fields, and inertial dampeners could safely allow, she accelerated to attack speed along the Avenger's longitudinal axis along the starboard side, rotating around her own axis. This exposed her starboard, ventral, dorsal, and port axes in turn, allowing the Humboldt to spit phaser fire, new phasers being brought to bear to give the others time to recharge their emitters. Each phaser targeted weapon systems--including the basilisk--and maneuvering thrusters, hoping to expose the starboard side of the Avenger to attack without it being able to retaliate or maneuver, but also not damage critical systems such as life support or destroy the ship. If the transport inhibitor was located the Ion cannons were set to fire upon and destroy it if possible, though they also fired on beam weapons as they presented themselves. Always, two phasers were kept in reserve to defend the ship in case of Tricobalt launch or other projectiles, and the tractor beams were kept ready to seize anything that got through. As she came around to the Avenger's aft, the phasers targeted the engine systems as well.

They would still not have much time before the Avenger rotated its shield modulation.

_________________
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
- Theodosius Dobzhansky

There is no word harsh enough for this. No verbal edge sharp and cold enough to set forth the flaying needed. English is to young and the elder languages of the earth beyond me. ~Frigid

The Holocaust was an Amazing Logistical Achievement~Havoc


Last edited by Comrade Tortoise on Fri May 13, 2011 4:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 5:05 am 
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Quote:
"A modification of the Breen system," he said. "Optimized for capital use by Orion engineers. We call it Basilisk. Now, you will broadcast an order to your fleet to stand down their weapons and fall back, or I will tear that ship apart with cutting beams, send a regiment of troops over to secure what's left, fire my tricobalt torpedoes into your remaining vessels, and shoot you in the head."

Tyran smirked as a tractor beam from the Avenger seized the derelict S'harien and gently began to move it out of the way, exposing the tender's torpedo launchers once more to the requisite firing lines.

"You have ten seconds, Captain."


"Shodar if you do not surrender, stand down your ships and heave to for an inspection to find and free any sapients or semi-sapient beings being held in bondage. Then my fleet will tear down your shields, bombard your ship and if captured I will put you on trail for your crimes and hang you from the neck until dead. If you surrender I will show mercy and allow you to withdraw with some of your ships and most of your men." Captain Anderson replied quickly.

USS Immortal

"Humvolt is firing on the tender." came the report. Commander Tak grunted. He was preoccupied with the tender's show of force. Captain Anderson had been on the Romulan ship... The one that had been blasted. He was possibly hurt, dead or dying... Alone maybe. The best thing for him would be to stop the fighting and get medical teams over there. But that wasn't an option.

"Bring us about, we got to get that freighter." We have to or I did all this and maybe killed the Captain for nothing. He felt sweat collecting on him as he weighed his options but he knew what Captain Anderson standing orders were and that he wouldn't have changed them. The ship came before any individual officers safety including his own.

"Com to the Akira and Gilgamesh, priority target is the tender, slam it." Commander Tak ordered tersely.

_________________
"it takes two sides to end a war but only one to start one. And those who do not have swords may still die upon them." Tolken


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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 5:44 am 
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The impact smashed Kadon off his feet and back into his command chair, blasting the air from his lungs. It took a moment before Kadon could hiss "status."

"Two disruptors offline, shields critical," said Arikel.

"The tricobalt tube is offline," replied Kallor.

"The S'harien has suffered some kind of crippling attack," said Arikel. "It seems to be a variant of the Breen energy damper."

"Power to shields," Kadon growled in battle language. "Emergency power to engines. Run the disruptor banks dry at any ship that targets us. Zan Khedira, get us to the tender. Use the S'harien as cover from whatever that is. Hit the shields, but not the hull."

"Acting," said Khedira who fed all the power available to the engines. She angled the Riskadh down, putting the S'harien between them and the tender and then slammed the main impulse engines.

"The Immortal is signalling us," said Aaveroke. "They want us to move in and capture the freighter."

"Are they insane?" Kadon raged. "Drop the Borg transmission and let them know that we are attempting to neutralize the tender. All other ships are to concentrate on other enemies. My orders as squadron leader. Load assault shuttles with EVA Marines and canisters of theragen gas, have them deploy after we've penetrated their shields. Have sickbay prepare to deal with theragen casualties."

The assault shuttles weapons were comparatively light, but more than enough to rip through the tender's hull. Emergency force fields would act as environmental containment. That meant the Marines and the gas would be able to flood the tender. Theragen disabled before it killed. Prompt medical attention would allow a respectable survival rate.

"Captain," began Arikel, "a collision-"

"is survivable for us," finished Kadon. "I saw enough ramming attacks during the Dominion War. We have impact shields. We will penetrate their shields. Switch from tactical to forward display."

"Captain," said Aaveroke, "we're getting a transmission from the Humboldt. The tender's shield frequencies."

""Matching frequencies," replied Arikel. "It's not the shields we should be concerned about, even if they've switched frequencies." The tender loomed larger and larger in the screen front of them as the Riskadh sped towards it. "If Khedira is off by more than a dozen meters-"

"We'll see how crippled impact shields deal with a ramming attack against naked hull," finished Kadon.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Morizan looked up at the ceiling of the turbolift. "Khest it." He slapped his com badge. "Menmoth, I'm stuck in a turbolift. The power died and I have a feeling it wasn't just in this section. The shuttle will take a while."

The intelligence officer leaped up and pulled the top access panel. He looked up. The next door was a meter up. He pulled himself up and raised his disruptor. Morizan cranked up the power and unleashed a volley of emerald bolts that hammered the door into ruin.

He pulled himself out of the lift and then grabbed the ledge, pulling himself up. He stepped carefully through the hole, avoiding the edges. He jogged down the corridor, heading toward the shuttle.

_________________
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Last edited by Cynical Cat on Tue May 24, 2011 6:05 am, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 2:48 pm 
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USS Spector
Battle Bridge


"Captain! Transmission from the Humboldt -- Shield frequencies for the 'tender!"

Kirk grinned widely. "Match them, coordinate fire with the Gilgamesh, and take those damn shields down and hit their torp tubes!"

"Captain, sensors show six tri-colbolts loaded," warned Serin. "If we hit .."

"Boom......" Kirk cursed. "Then I guess we'll have to hit something besides the tubes...Warn the rest of the fleet about the danger NOW, and find me a weak spot for our little packages."

"Without their shields, they're wide open, Captain."

"Then give me a pattern omega, avoiding any and all torpedo tubes on that ship." Kirk ordered. "Hit them hard."

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 10:01 pm 
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"Shield frequencies." Called out the comms officer, as weapons fire poured at the tender.

"Wonderful. Carve it up into small pieces."

"....What the hell? Sir! The other Vulcans are flying between us. THey're.. Spinning and such."

"Sons of Romulans!" Spat the XO. "Fire anyway! If they don't take the hint from the phasers, the plasma torps will make it! Fire!"

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Tev: You're turning me on.

I Am Rage. You Will Know My Fury.


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 10:50 pm 
The Artist formerly known as Rhoenix
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A violent explosion lit up from the last remaining escort ship defending the pirate fleet, seconds before its killer flew through the expanding fireball. The Gilgamesh had taken nothing but a few scratches to its shields, a testament to the small ship's designers.

The Gilgamesh's flight trajectory altered slightly, arcing back toward their fleet, assembled in the forge of combat over Nivoch IV. The message was terse, and if intercepted by the pirate fleet, would be as ominous as it was confusing.

Code:
Gilgamesh, requesting shieldspace.


The eyes of all crew on the bridge of the small Federation destroyer were hard, and focused on their tasks at hand. However, as the tactical officer of the Gilgamesh added new telemetry data to the tactical viewer at the center of the bridge, he accompanied it with three words that made everyone on the bridge smile grimly. "Cometfall is online."

Quote:
Action: after destroying last escort, Gilgamesh requests a parking spot in an allied ship's shieldspace.

_________________
"Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes."

- William Gibson


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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 9:49 am 
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A hostage situation? We're in starships, that doesn't even make sense!

While that thought was busy running through Leyton's head, Tex's cowboy hat nearly fell off with the speed the science officer sat bolt upright at his station.

"Sir, we're receiving detailed information on the tender's shield configuration. We should--"

Leyton cut him off in his haste to take advantage of the situation before the momentary advantage could be lost. Turning his head towards the Andorian woman sitting next to him, he quickly barked a brace of orders, "Lesschey, tractors. Get me locks on the Sharien now that we've got the shield keys. Prep to extend shields once she's close enough, I don't want to rescue her hulk only to lose her to the plasma storm. Scylla, maneuver the ship to put as many of our myriad tractor emitters as possible on-arc. I want tractors facing away to angle for friendlies but not energize. I just want a bit of extra oomph on hand if we can't grab her ourselves."

As he spoke he began retargeting the point defense systems to fire beneath the tender's shields in the hopes of intercepting any fired munitions before they reached minimum safe distance and -- hopefully -- before their warheads could arm.

"That ship's got tractors too, but I'm willing to bet she's not expecting the kind of capability we've built here..."

A quiet, nasty-sounding chuckle rustled around the bridge, the grey-haired man in the captain's chair smiling wolfishly. Whatever happened, the ship was going into battle with a harsh, ugly laugh instead of a quiet 'oh shit.'
________

Scylla spun hurriedly on its axis and then spoke, not with the roar of phasers and torpedoes, but with the low growling hum of many, many tractor beams lancing out from emitters all over the hull, all at once. Armed with the tender's shield keys, they speared through the bubble of force and twisted space to make a sudden grab for the trapped, disabled warship, trying to wrench it free before her captors could react. At the same time, targeting sensors lashed the tender's hull and watched carefully for any weapon releases or troopship launches, phasers on a hair-trigger.

Leyton's voice passed over the squadron tactical network for the first time, all previous transmissions having been pure-text.

"Making a grab, Scylla has tractors like you wouldn't believe. Point defense is aimed past their shields."

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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 11:54 am 
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Barbarossa
Hizir finally got back to the bridge, still a little out of breath from getting the wind knocked out of him when the Tricobalt hit. "Status Report!"

The officers around the bridge each yelled out the status of this FUBAR'ed situation in turn. They'd long ago trained how to give the information quickly, clearly, and in a specific order. Hizir took in all the information, cursing the luck. Maybe if he'd stayed up here this situation could have been avoided. Little for it now.

"Weapons, get ready to help clear the skies of all those enemy signals. And get point defense up and running full tilt. I don't need another one of those damn super torpedoes hitting us. Security, assist in moving and securing the wounded. Engineering, keep holding us together."

The Barbarossa leaped to life once again, Security teams were dispatched along with what medical teams the ship had to the numerous refugees who had been injured during the crash, and to deal with the panic that was no doubt welling up.

"Communications, open a channel to anyone who wants to listen." Hizir grinned. Once the channel was open, the pirate began.

"Avenger! This is Hizir Alpharius Reis, Captain of the Barbarossa. Former Captain of the Orion's Bastard." That should get their attention. "To all enemy ships. Stand down now or you will be destroyed. Shodar Tyran." I would much rather trade words than disruptor fire, but we're past that now, with everyone else in this damn fleet opening fire. "Surrender and I will see to the safety of you and your men personally."

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:11 pm 
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Alpha Quadrant
Badlands, IRW S'harien
Bridge

Erei'riov Hanaj Dar frowned as his eyes stared calmly at the ever present data that was carried to his console through a multitude of sensors. A part of him still could not believe what was transpiring around him nor the position that Galan and to a lesser extent himself had placed the S'harien in. A small holographic image of the Saeihr's torpedo cluster was a constant reminder of his predicament. It was with that thought in mind that a message manifested itself on his console and was immediately opened. It was a priority message from the docking bay, his eyes widened slightly as he caught the core of the request.

Is that possible?


He allowed himself to consider the thought for only a moment. The men and women under his command were all eminently capable. If one of his subordinates wanted to risk all of their precious Romulan shuttles on a gamble, she would have a good reason to do so. He granted the request immediately. And frowned as more data manifested itself on his console. Outside of the protective cocoon which the Saeihr was projecting around itself and over the S'harien the situation was growing increasingly dire.

"Velal, I need options." He said softly a moment after a channel was opened to main engineering. His voice was calm and cool. He felt nothing of the kind.

"Working on it Erei'riov." Was the curt reply. The undercurrent of irritation did not go unnoticed. He could only imagine the stress of the situation on the keen mind of the Romulan science officer.

Galan, I hope you get here soon or I may be forced to make a decision we all may come to regret.

Alpha Quadrant
Badlands, IRW S'harien
Docking Bay


Under normal circumstances the shuttle crews of the S'harien were not within their vehicles since the start of hostilities. The Romulan Star Empire had never placed the value on small craft that the Federation and other nations had. It had not been the Romulan way to rely on the small, numerous and maneuverable daughter craft. They had been perceived as a nuisance, a waste of lives on a vessel that was not capable enough to reliably destroy larger targets. A part of it had been pride of course. There were those within the Empire that had believed that the Romulan people had mastered every facet of warfare. They had reached the stars before many, their technology was unrivaled in nearly all areas. The idea that the Federation had come up with a radical manner to fight wars had been an affront to many.

Thankfully, not every Romulan strategist had turned their eyes away from the potential of strike craft. When the Federation developed the peregrine fighter, and perhaps more importantly the armed runabout there were those within the Empire that watched and listened. The Romulan Star Empire did not develop its own countermeasures, for doing so would be perceived as a direct reaction to the Federation's achievements in this area. As a result, existing designs were modified and repurposed. The Romulan shuttle was such a design, the latest models employing significant enhancements to armaments and capabilities. The S'harien possessed eight such shuttles, each armed with up to four full sized plasma torpedoes and an array of six disruptor cannons. With the addition of their cloaking devices, the shuttle became superior to the latest version of Federation runabout.

Due to the significant civilian population aboard the S'harien and given the nature of the meeting that had been taking place between the Saeihr and the S'harien it had been decided by the commanding officer Arrain Latesh that the shuttles would be fully manned and ready for launch at a moment's notice. The decision had been as much practical as it had been paranoid. The civilians that had been crammed into the vessel had swarmed over the bulk of the Warbird as a handful of low security locations that were ordinarily tasked with serving as staging points for pilots and support staff were subsumed into the task of providing secure locations for the seemingly endless number of civilians aboard the S'harien.

When the situation within the Saehir soured, Arrain Latesh had quickly understood the desperate nature of the circumstances surrounding his home. A combination of a keen intellect and desperation had driven the idea forward and as soon as Erei'riov Dar approved it he slid into action. The endless drills and constant readiness of his force was about to payoff.

"This is Arrain Latesh. Execute Vorta Vor." The communication was opened and exchanged with the rest of the shuttles. The entire formation seemed to hesitate for a second before all seven remaining shuttles acknowledged the orders.

This is going to work.

Alpha Quadrant
Badlands, IRW S'harien

As the S'harien hovered in space interposing itself between the torpedo launcher of the Saeihr silently daring the tender to fire a curious malfunction occurred. In the chaos of the battle raging around the Warbird, it was likely to be overlooked but the rear facing docking bay doors of the S'harien slid open. The doors remained open for fifteen or so seconds before they slid closed once more. Upon their closing, eight shadows in real space slithered away from the S'harien each seeking a predetermined position in space.

Alpha Quadrant
Badlands, IRW S'harien
Bridge

"They are away sir." The voice of his sensor officer was tense. The maneuvers the shuttles had to perform to stay within the shield bubble of the Saeihr were far from simple, the difficulty was only compounded by the incoming fire from the task force that would sooner or later either break through the shields of the Saeihr or ignore them altogether once the fractal key that had been sent to the task force was implemented.
Hanaj Dar leaned against his command chair and nodded. "Good. I hope this works." He dreaded the idea of losing a single precious shuttle to such a maneuver but the situation which had been forced upon him did not allow him luxuries.

"The Saeihr is ignoring us Erei'riov." The female Romulan in charge of communications did not hide her anger.

Erei'riov Hanaj Dar frowned. "Then maybe it is time to give them something to think about." His eyes glanced at his holo display. "Tactical, I want you to fire the sword on the following coordinates."

His tactical officer nodded and waited as silence descended on the bridge once more as targeting sensors reached out and kissed the hull of the formerly IRW Saeihr.

Maybe this will get your attention Shodar Tyran.


Hanaj Dar allowed himself a smug smile as the thought floated to the top of his mind. As pleasure rippled through his stomach and tendrils began to spread they died instantly when a torrent of energy lashed out and engulfed the S'harien.

Damn it Galan, why did it have to be on my watch?


Alpha Quadrant
Badlands, IRW S'harien


The IRW S'harien had been built to withstand just about anything short of a Borg assault. It had been built in response to the inadequacies of the D'Deridex class and the emergence of new starships from their rivals the Federation. The Breen weapon that had reduced many of her predecessors to helplessness had been compensated against and those keen Romulan minds had assured the Romulan Senate and Tal'Shiar that they had planned for every contingency. The Romulan Star Empire would never have to fear the Breen's weapon or any of its derivatives. The Basilisk made the boasts of those men and women ring hollow.

As the energy washed over the Warbird it robbed it of its strength. Its weapons fell silent first, the massive amounts of energy that had been stored and ready to devastate the IRW Saeihr were smothered and drowned out. The energy spread through the ship and continued its grim purpose, ravenously consuming the stored energy of the Warbird wherever it was found. Within the span of ten seconds, the S'harien had been robbed of nearly all of its strength and the overwhelming majority of its stored reserves. The worst of all however was yet to come. In the armored core of the S'harien, in the very center of its engineering deck the heart of the Warbird beat. It was the Borg-enhanced core that allowed the S'harien to continue to fight. As the energy finally reached this core, the core began to slow and within the span of seven breaths it stopped altogether.

Alpha Quadrant
Badlands, IRW S'harien
Bridge


Hanaj Dar blinked as the energy passed over the Warbird and left. For a moment, a fraction of a second he was left dumb founded. Why was he still alive? A fraction of a second later when the effects of the energy pulse began an icy chill descended upon his heart.

"Status!" He barked out as the bridge was plunged into darkness which was almost immediately remedied by the emergency systems.

"All systems are down!" His sensor officer growled in frustration. "We have internal sensors throughout the ship and even some of those are not responding."

"Communications outside of the ship are down, we can neither send nor receive Erei'riov." The communication officer stated. "We still have internal communications."

Erei'riov parted his lips to speak when a soft groan seemed to echo through the bridge before fading. "What the hell was that?"

"The integrity fields are down Erei'riov. The ship is adjusting to their absence. Sensors indicate that there are several of these adjustments occurring throughout the ship. The one we heard appeared to have started in deck 2." His sensor officer replied moments later.

Erei'riov hesitated for only a moment before he pressed a button. "Velal..."

The response was near immediate. "Hanaj! Do not ask for miracles I cannot provide! I was told that this was impossible! I was there when the ship was commissioned and this was told to us as an impossibility! I cannot plan for the impossible! The core is slowing..." The message faded abruptly as Arrain Velal focused on something else in the background.

"Arrain Velal!" Hanaj Dar called out.

"The core has stopped. It is not producing any power anymore." Her voice was soft, akin to a mother having lost her only child. "The last time this happened it took us over eight hours for us to restart it and that was with suitable preparations and ample power reserves."

Hanaj Dar paused. "What are you telling me?"

"I am telling you that we are helpless Hanaj. I am telling you I am not sure what I can do. If I were you, I would give the order to prepare for boarding." Arrain Velal stated softly before she closed the channel.

Shit.

"All hands, prepare for boarding." He had barely finished saying those words when the S'harien shook.

A tractor beam.

Hanaj Dar frowned and reached for his side arm. If they thought that he would hand over this vessel to anyone. The first enemy that he saw would be rudely disabused of the notion.

Alpha Quadrant
Badlands, IRW S'harien
Secondary Lift 8

Riov Galan Cretak forced himself to remain calm as the lift carried him towards the command deck of the S'harien and the bridge that laid therein. At this sides stood two Reman commandos and one junior engineer. The lift had been halfway to its destination when the Basilisk weapon hit the S'harien. The lift slowed and then stopped almost instantly, the emergency lights turning on a handful of seconds later.

"What was that?" The junior engineer asked.

Galan found himself frowned, his left hand moving a moment before he spoke. "Bridge?" When there was no immediate response he knew something was amiss. "We have to get out of here."

The Reman troopers nodded, the closest to the emergency hatch located in the roof moving to open it.

"Wait, the emergency power will kick in any moment now." The junior officer stated.

"This is a secondary lift higher than four. Secondary lifts five through eight are not plugged into the emergency power supplies due to problems feeding the type 16 disruptor cannons. It is an issue that we have been trying to resolve but it has been a low priority. Arrain Velal has not made a secret of this, she listed this concern in her last three engineering reports." Galan Cretak said.

The junior engineer stared at his Riov. "You...You read the engineering reports?"

Riov Cretak watched as the first Reman secured open the hatch and pulled himself up. A moment later, his twin followed up. "Of course. It is my duty to know this ship as well as I know myself." He took a step and then another and paused beneath the emergency exit hatch. "You are welcome to stay here. I have to make my way to the bridge."

The junior engineer hesitated for only a moment before he shook his head. "No. You are the Riov of this ship. It is my duty to get you to where you wish to go. Besides, you may need my help." He said.

Riov Cretak allowed himself a small smile. "I am happy to have you. A moment later he pulled himself up. He waited for the engineer and offered his hand. The engineer took the help and together they escaped the unpowered lift.

Alpha Quadrant
Badlands, IRW S'harien
Main Engineering, Quantum Singularity Core

The Quantum Singularity Core was the heart of the S'harien. It was a union of Romulan and Borg technology which was to a great degree controlled by the controls located in main engineering. Arrain Velal had spent years seeking to master its secrets and knew the core better than anyone. She still understood only a fraction of its secrets. Within the core, the basilisk had performed its job admirably. In robbing so much energy from the core so quickly, it had breached nearly all of the fail safes and protections which had been put in place by Arrain Velal through a combination of Romulan technology, personal brilliance and extrapolations from a wide array of existing and theoretical theories on no less than eight separate scientific principles. In the end it was not these protections or Romulan science that allowed the core to survive the assault of the Basilisk. It was Borg technology.

One of the secrets of the core of the S'harien was the presence of significant amounts of modified borg nano-probes. The purpose of these probes was to regulate and maintain the inner chamber of the core. These highly specialized probes held no allegiance to anything or anyone aside from performing their appointed tasks. The Basilisk had washed over the core akin to a tidal wave that washed over the borg core extinguishing it. Unfortunately for Shodar Tyran, these small nano-probes carried with them the singular feature of the Borg. They adapted. It took over ten seconds for the borg nano-probes to restart, leeching minute amounts of energy from the very Borg architecture which encased and enjoined the core. Upon their reawakening, their programming kicked in. The silent core was anathema, a deviation from the reliable status quo that all Borg seemed to crave.

Eleven seconds after the Basilisk had reached the core and smothered its fire the borg nano-probes interfaced and coaxed primary and secondary systems to awake. Beneath their incessant prodding, borg-enhanced circuitry came online. As Arrain Velal watched tertiary systems in support of the core were activated, these systems were then joined by secondary systems. Before Arrain Velal could move her right arm to touch her communicator a ripple in subspace spread from the S'harien and undulated through subspace. A fraction of a second later, the heart of the S'harien began to beat once more sending familiar power flowing once more through the veins and arteries of the Romulan Warbird.

"The core is back online! We have power!" Arrain Velal managed to excitedly call out a moment before the channel was closed and her fingers began to direct the flow of power to key systems within the Warbird.


Alpha Quadrant
Badlands, IRW S'harien


Erei'riov Hanaj Dar scrambled to give orders as the excited words of his chief engineer and science officer dispelled the impending sense of doom that had descended upon his mind and heart. "Power to the sensors, what do we see? Engines, full reverse I want to fight this tractor beam. Weapons, charge the sword and type 16's, I want a full spread of torpedoes on the following coordinates. Coordinate our fire with Kaleh one through eight!"

The bridge became a whirlwind of activity as individual consoles came back to life. The sensors came first, providing them with a view of their current situation and updating the strategic and tactical disposition of the forces in the task force. Targeting solutions were updated, data was processed through a myriad of neural-enhanced circuits. The communication officer was swallowed up by her work, tapping into the encrypted communication network of the task force. Ideally, there would be time to analyze orders and to catch up. The S'harien had been forcefully severed from the battle for well over fifteen seconds and even now, had not regained its full strength. The anger in the bridge was palpable and Hanaj Dar was not about to let the moment pass.

"Targets had been updated!" His tactical officer called out.

Hanaj Dar allowed himself a moment to glance at his data screens. A fire burned in the pit of his stomach as his eyes stared at the IRW Saeihr and the sapphire hued tractor beam that was emitting itself.

"v'rhaen-ao'au." The words left his lips in a whisper before he spoke more firmly. "Fire!"

The IRW S'harien reared its impulse engines glowing a familiar green as it sought to fight the sapphire hued net that had snared it and sought to drag it ever closer towards the IRW Saeihr. It was not a fight that the Warbird seemed capable of winning. The Saeihr was massive and its four quantum singularity cores granted tangible advantages. What the IRW S'harien possessed however was a combination of righteous anger, indignation and three forward facing torpedo launchers. The Sword of S'task and even the type 16 disruptor cannons lacked the power to intervene. Plasma torpedoes had no such difficulties.

The central launcher of the S'harien fired first, disgorging their payload of four plasma torpedoes in a sequence designed to minimize the chance for fratricide and all targeted on the tractor beam emitter which had snared it. The twin launchers beneath the wings also joined their sister, disgorging four more plasma torpedoes into eight separate target points. These target points were chosen with care, for even as rage threatened to spread through the body and mind of Hanaj Dar he had no particular death wish. He did not wish to trigger the ever dangerous tricobalt torpedoes of the Saeihr. The twelve torpedoes which were fired against the Saeihr was an impressive show of force but it could not be easily sustained. Even now, within the armored torpedo rooms of the S'harien the process of reloading the ordnance began to take place. Had the 12 torpedoes been the sole act of defiance, it would not have been a very impressive one. 12 torpedoes alone were hardly enough to display the anger that the S'harien and her crew felt.

It was due to this that space seemed to ripple and shift as eight Romulan shuttles manifested themselves beneath the shield bubble of the Saeihr. Each shuttle had been assigned a sister and broken into pairs. Together each pair moved to different sides of the Saeihr two below, two above, two to port and two to starboard. As these shuttles anchored themselves to real space they fired their own ordnance. Each Shuttle fired a single plasma torpedo towards the Saeihr while their disruptors raked the hull of the tender. The disruptor cannons themselves were unlikely to cause significant damage to the ship, but they targeted sensor clusters, disruptor banks and other protrusions that would likely react poorly to fire. As they did so, the second salvo prepared itself to be let loose. One shuttle broke from formation with its peer and darted forward, moving directly in front of the torpedo cluster that was placed to directly threaten the S'harien. As it did so, it armed its three remaining plasma torpedoes and move so close as to leave barely eighteen inches between the opening of the launcher and the hull of the shuttle itself.

Shortly after the twenty individual plasma torpedoes were fired, Hanaj Dar opened an unencrypted channel to the Saeihr. "You tried to kill me and my ship. Convince me to not return the favor." As he finished speaking the Sword of S'task greedily drank the energy offered to her from the newly beating heart of the S'harien. The targeting sensors kissed the hull of the Saeihr once more as eight angels watched and waited for a word to quench their anger or unleash it in a manner that could potentially lead them all including their home and everyone they loved to oblivion.

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Last edited by Marcao on Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:19 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:21 pm 
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Alpha Quadrant
Badlands, USS Gilgamesh
Bridge


Lieutenant Commander Nevola shook her head, as the ship headed around on another small patrol of the area surrounding the pirate-held Romulan fleet-tender. "No good Captain - no response from the other ships. It sounds like they have their... oh no."

Her eyes opened wide, just as the avatar for the IRW S'harien was highlighted in red on the spherical tactical viewer.

"Report the status of the S'harien," Captain Solheim said, his eyes narrowing. This was far too convenient to be a random incident.

"They've lost power to their singularity core," Commander Inzeti reported, her voice betraying a small hint of tightness. "All systems are down. The S'harien is dead in space."

"Navigation, change course to defensive patrol of the S'harien," Captain Solheim ordered.

The small Federation destroyer suddenly spun to the side, and raced at full speed toward the stricken S'harien, closing the distance rapidly - but not fast enough for several of the crew on the bridge, all watching in silent anticipation.

Then, just as they began to patrol around the much larger Valdore-class Romulan battlecruiser, Commander Inzeti spoke up. "Captain, power is flooding their systems - they will be back to full strength shortly."

Captain Solheim permitted himself a small smile at this before answering. "Good, I'd never let him hear the end of it otherwise. Navigation, continue defensive patrol of the S'harien. Comm, hail them to tell them we're on patrol, and to not bother using a sword for a gunfight," he finished with a small smirk.

Lieutenant Commander Nevola shook her head with a smile, but the message was sent.

Message to S'harien wrote:
S'harien - your status change was noted, and Gilgamesh is on defensive patrol of your position. Oort protocol is ready.

Captain Solheim said "don't use a Sword in a gunfight."

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Shodar Tyran did not take Captain Anderson's offer well.

For a moment, a brief moment, Tyran's hand moved to the ferengi-model pulse phaser he carried at his side, as if the only reasonable answer to an offer like this was to shoot the offender straight through the head. He mastered the impulse after just a moment, but instead stepped forward towards Anderson, gesturing at the viewscreen as he did so.

"Sapients held in bondage?" he demanded angrily. "You just killed the bulk of the sapients I had held by bondage or anything else! Those were your own ships!" Something in the Admiral's eyes flashed, a combination of incomprehension and anger fused together into something approximating horror. "Is this what the Federation's ideals have come to?" he asked, a question without an answer.

The sound of a muted explosion brought everyone back to their senses.

"The enemy fleet has opened fire on us!" cried one of the Orions. "Their weapons are penetrating our shields!"

"What?" asked Tyran, turning to his crew and leaving Anderson in the care of the guards. Several more explosions sounded, muted by the sheer bulk of the ship, as the viewscreen showed two smaller ships, Gilgamesh and Humboldt, turning towards the camera. Gilgamesh broke off, flying towards the crippled Romulan warship, but Humbolt opened fire with what looked like ion cannons, seconds before a blistering hail of fire filled the space around the science vessel, whose imperturbable run was not even shaken by the loose torpedo from somewhere further back that collided with her port nacelle, even as a dozen other flew past and exploded with a flash. An instant later, the viewscreen itself shorted out into a rain of static, as the sensor array that fed it was obliterated by a shot from the Vigilance.

More explosions, over and over now, each one shaking the command center, buried deep as it was within the cavernous tender. With visible reluctance, Tyran turned away from Anderson and back to the command staff.

"Weapons fire impacting on all sectors, shields ineffective."

"Rotate shield frequency keys and spin up the Basilisk for another shot."

"Rotation underway, but the generators need two minutes to reset."

"We don't have that kind of time. Lock tricobalt torpedoes on that flagship and prepare to - "

"SIR!"

The last shout was from an Orion at the far side of the room, whose console had apparently given him such shocking news as to engender a cry of near panic.

Tyran's head whipped around towards the shouting Orion. "What is it?!"

"I... sir it..."

"I asked you a question!"

"The Romulan cruiser, sir! It... it's power systems are coming back online!"

"What?!" shouted Tyran. "That's impossible! Get me a view of that ship and - "

He got no further. In an instant, the viewscreen came back online, showing the S'harien, her lights turning back on, her engines attaining purchase once more on the plasmic void. For half a second, the command staff of the Avenger watched the sleek Romulan Warbird retain its equilibrium. And then they saw two dozen streaks of green emerge from the ship and the small specks of light around her, to join another two dozen from other points, and streak straight towards the camera in a fraction of an instant.

There wasn't even time to scream.

*-----------------------------------------------------------*

The hammer fell all at once.

Specter, sitting behind the other ships, had cut loose a starburst of torpedoes at the implacable enemy ship, like a hive of angry wasps unleashing its soldiers upon an invading enemy. Turning and dancing through the firelight, a dozen torpedoes screamed towards their target. Unprotected from the plasma around them, relying on their speed to get them through the storm, one torpedo was hit by a stroke of ionized lightning and vaporized. Another, clipped by a wing of the storm, flew wildly off course and collided with the fortunately-intact rear shields of the IKS Riskadh. Another was unable to avoid the strafing USS Humbolt and exploded against her nacelle. The nine remainders joined with three quantum torpedoes from the USS Immortal (a fourth being incinerated by an errant plasma bolt), four plasmas from Vigilance, and four more photons from Argonaut. Together, all twenty torpedoes, plus a handful of beam and energy weapon shots from assorted ships.

For those aboard the Avenger, there was good and bad news.

The good news came in the form of a source unlooked for, USS Scylla, whose point defense fire, designed to ensure that no torpedoes launched from the Avenger could find a mark, did the same for those launched at her. A hail of phaser fire duly savaged the incoming flight of ordinance, punching straight through the tender's useless shields to fry torpedoes and detonate them prematurely. Of the twenty assorted warheads aimed at the fleet tender, seven were torn apart prematurely.

The bad news was that this didn't really matter, thanks to the Romulan Empire.

Scylla seized S'harien with a tractor beam, seeking to drag her from the line of fire, pulling the battlecruiser back and away. Her engineers had anticipated many contingencies, but not the battlecruiser returning to life spontaneously after a blow that should by rights have disabled her for hours. As S'harien's engines caught fire once more and competed with the tractor beam intended to save her, the ship strained and shook, knocking crew sprawling, straining bulkheads and structural integrity fields, and knocking out of alignment all targeting algorithms. Had the ship been firing at anything smaller than a fleet tender, or had all of her ordinance been deployed from aboard, these things might have made a difference. But neither was the case, and the range between S'harien and the ship she had been designed to guard with her life was too small for even Scylla's point defense to do anything about. Of the twenty torpedoes fired by the cruiser and her assault craft, three were scythed down by the concentrated point defense fire. Another was snagged in a tractor beam and detonated early. The remaining sixteen joined the eleven fired by the rest of the fleet, and all struck their targets together.

There was an explosion.

Five million degree hydrogen plasma, kilogram-scale matter-antimatter reactions, and the quantum fluctuations of zero-point energy all melded together into a cataclysm, a barrage of explosive power directed not at the starbase-grade shields of the target ship, but her naked, unprotected hull. The power of the sympathetic detonations blew a shockwave of stormy plasma outwards from the stricken vessel, washing over the flank of Humboldt like a freak wave, disabling her engines and sending her tumbling helplessly through space. The wave also beat against Riskadh, shaking the cruiser and sending her assault shuttles tumbling like bowling pins struck by a meteor. S'harien bucked and jolted like a wild horse, her inertial dampeners failing in mid-startup, bouncing crew and refugees alike off the walls and bulkheads like rubber balls, moments before the battlecruiser was shoved bodily into the USS Gilgamesh, who had taken up patrol around her and whose maneuvering thrusters were equally thrown out of alignment as a result. Had Gilgamesh been a battlecruiser in her own right, the ships might have crushed one another, but Gilgamesh was small and under impulse power, and her mass was not sufficient to cause a catastrophe. Hull and shields scraped against one another at an oblique angle for a moment before Gilgamesh simply deflected off the Romulan cruiser and floated free amidst a cloud of paint particles and ablative armor cells torn free from both ships. In this, she was luckier than S'harien's clutch of shuttles, which were hurled bodily in every which way. One shuttle however had the ignominious fate of being dashed to pieces against the hull of her mothership. The others were simply cast about like toy boats on a stormy ocean, as their pilots struggled to regain control.

And yet all this was simply the side effect of the torpedo strike.

Within the maelstrom that had once been a fleet tender, no sensor could penetrate, no eye could see. A roiling sea of fire, a miniature star being simultaneously born and slain, covered the extent of the Avenger. Struck with the equivalent of four tricobalt torpedoes worth of destruction, consumed with fires hot enough to melt tritanium and vaporize durasteel, no ship, perhaps not even a Cube, could possibly take such fire to their hull and remain intact. And then, four or five endless seconds later, the veil of fire between her and the fleet melted away, and the Allied ships saw what they had wrought.

And to the surprise of many, their target remained.

Avenger sat quiet now, her lights not simply extinguished but gone, her hull flayed open like the victim of some medieval torture. Her entire bow and starboard side had been skinned, her outer hull ripped off, bulkheads exposed to the vacuum of space and reduced by the plasma fires to slag metal. Half of what had once been a barracks sat exposed to space, its inhabitants vaporized, and only the charred ruins of bunks and personal effects lockers remaining to testify to what had once been here. Two decks up, a wardroom had been coated with fine black ash, the mortal remains of fifty Orions who had been using it for a staff meeting when the apocalypse hit. All across the mighty vessel's front, all across her flank, rooms sat like incinerated ant farms, giving the fleet a ghoulish window into a ship overcome all at once by Armageddon. Here and there, great bites had been taken from the Avenger's hull where a photon or quantum torpedo had bit and bit deeply. One shot had punched clear through her hull and opened a hole the size of a house through to the internal workspace she had been designed around, a hanger large enough to swallow a D'Deridex whole. That workspace was now quiet, the fleets of repair craft, tugs, and internal shuttles incinerated by the sudden drenching of stellar plasma. Indeed, the entire ship was quiet, floating like a corpse, her shields and communications so far offline as to render the term laughable, a broken and devastated form, a slain dragon no longer able to muster even a wisp of smoke to frighten away the vultures.

And yet...

*--------------------------------------------------------------*

"Lifesigns?"

The sensor officer did not reply immediately, but this time Ereshal did not rush him. The soup of the badlands was bad enough, but the aftermath of the terrible stroke laid upon that fleet tender had rendered sensor performance a bad joke. The ship on the viewscreen looked dead enough, twisted and shattered, intact now only because the vast majority of the torpedoes that had struck her were plasma torpedoes, less well suited to punching a hole through an armored shell than conventional explosives.

"I'm... I'm reading lifesigns, sir!"

For a second, Ereshal thought she had head the Ensign wrong. Surely nothing could have survived such a cataclysm, even on a ship the size of -

"Confirm that sir, lifesigns all over the ship. Clustered on the port and aft sides. And there's... there's some power readings too. Emergency power I think. Life support and gravity and... and I think someone's trying to power a deflector array."

Ereshal did not reply. Neither did Luther. No effort did they make to add more fire down on the ruined tender, nor to ask for orders or "suggestions" from the Immortal or elsewhere. They simply stared, watching to see what the others would do now that their quarry was, against all imagination, merely disabled rather than completely destroyed. Her shields annihilated at a stroke (removing the protective bubble around S'harien), her communications array either offline or obliterated, the ship yet somehow lived, shattered as she was.

It was Luther who, grudgingly, spoke what everyone aboard Argonaut's bridge was thinking.

"I'll give the bastards this much, Romulans know how to build 'em right..."

*--------------------------------------------------*

It was some time, though nobody could tell how much, before anyone in the command center of the Avenger could so much as wonder about the overall condition of the ship.

Shodar Tyran's chair had been crushed under a falling girder, though fortunately for him he had not been sitting in it at the time. Nobody had been sitting, for the force of the Allied strike had hurled everyone from their seats and around the command center like toys. Seat restraints had proven useless, snapped like dental floss under the force of impact. Better than a third of the Command Crew were dead, another third wounded, and the remainder merely bruised and battered but still at least ambulatory. Tyran was among the last third. So, infuriatingly, was Captain Anderson.

But then right now, that was a tertiary concern at best.

"Status," coughed Tyran once his second officer managed to dig him out of the electrical rubble that had collapsed on him. His first officer was unconscious in the corner, having been hit by the viewscreen.

"We're getting fragmentary reports from a handful of decks. Main power is offline from all five reactors. All combat systems are unresponsive. Internal workbay has been breached. No response from secondary command or from workbay command."

"I've got main engineering," said someone else. "They're more or less intact. Emergency power is operating, and they think they can get Reactor 4 back online in ten minutes or so."

"Sensors?" asked the Admiral.

"Tertiary sensor grid is partly active. I've got rough echolocation positions for the enemy fleet. Good enough for an approximate targeting solution on one or two of them."

"Targeting with what?" asked Tyran rhetorically. "I assume the weapons grid is offline."

"Yes sir," said the second officer, "but the portside torpedo launchers are still intact, and the tricobalts had targeting data fed into them before they hit us. If we re-direct emergency power, we can drop four torpedoes on them."

Tyran was on his feet by now, an angry gash torn across his forehead, his uniform crumpled and covered with plaster and fragments of debris, blood running down one arm. The remaining command crew were in the same approximate state, staring at their admiral, waiting for his orders. For his part, Shodar Tyran turned his head to Captain Anderson, wordlessly staring into the human's half-cybernetic face, his expression inscrutable, as the El-Aurian pirate admiral tallied up the mathematics of the situation.

"No," he said. "Stand down torpedoes."

"But, Shodar!" cried the Orion, "their closest ships are completely off-balanced by the explosion, we can kill half their fleet in one barrage of - "

"And then what?" asked Tyran, turning back to the Orion officer with a gaze that could melt lead. "What do we do about the other half of their fleet after we've killed this one. You think those were the last torpedoes in their shot lockers?" The Orion's protest died in his throat, and Tyran turned away. "If they can negate the Basilisk, I doubt four tricobalts would kill anything close to half of their fleet. We'd be lucky to get even one, and then we would all be dead."

The Admiral took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "No," he finally said. "No, we've lost. Shut the torpedo tube doors, and get me a working comm array. Now."

The Orion crew hesitated visibly, but none had the stomach to argue against their Admiral, and one by one, they turned away to obey his orders. For his part, Tyran said nothing more, turning back to his command chair and shoving the debris off of it before sitting down with a weary sigh. He did not even look at Captain Anderson, muttering instead to himself in a language the universal translators either did not know or did not pick up.

"We've... got a response from the portside auxiliary deflector array," said one of the officers after a few moments. "We can use it to broadcast broadband to anyone within a few million kilometers. It'll take some re-configuring before we can receive transmissions."

"I expect I know what their transmissions are already," said Shodar Tyran. "Get me a channel."

"Viewscreen's offline," said the officer, a laughable understatement as the viewscreen had been torn from the wall and shattered into a thousand pieces along the front side of the command center. "I can re-route it to the headset."

"Do it," said Tyran, reaching down and drawing out a small microphone headset from a sleeve built into the side of the command chair. Tyran stood up with the headset, reaching up to put it over his head, but stopped as he was about to do so. For a second he stood there, thinking, then finally he turned to Anderson, looked the human over for a few moments, and then, with just a touch of palpable contempt, tossed the headset lightly to the Federation Commodore.

"Call your people," he said to Captain Anderson, an annoyed frown on his face. "Tell them they've won." He turned away in what looked like disgust, collapsing back down into his chair and sighing in resignation.

"We surrender."

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Captain Anderson stood up, indifferent to Shodar's emotional state. He took the headset and keyed it.

"All ships stand down, hostilities are over. Arrange boarding parties for surrendering vessels those of you who can. Captain Khemera is in command until I return to the Immortal. I will do so when the tender is secure. Captain Cretak, status please?" Captain Anderson asked calmly. He clamped down on the shakes he felt trying to develop across his body and the manic urge to shriek laughter. Death had failed to reach him yet again. He lived, more importantly so did the ship.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 10:04 am 
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Silence ruled Scylla's bridge in the wake of the titanic hammerblow that just fell on the massive Romulan tender. Oh, there had been one or two reports as the crippled ship came back into view., but given the sudden totality of Avenger's helplessness, they lacked a certain urgency. Unbidden, given the 'disabled' cruiser's undisabled status, the Andorian woman seated next to Leyton disengaged the tractor beams grappled to the other ship without a word. Finally, Scylla's grey-haired captain spoke up with a wry smile twisting into existence,

"Well, that was unexpected."

As if a spell had been broken by those simple words, a bustle of activity once more filled the bridge. Leyton busied himself updating the point-defense fire plan to take advantage of the additional tractor beams freed up by the release of S'harien. His own thinking mirroring Shodar's second: torpedo launchers don't require much power to fire. He frowned at the small craft spalling away from the fading blast, noting the friendly transponders and glancing over towards the seat next to him.

"Lesschey, grab S'harien's small craft, whatever those are. Be gentle, they won't have the compensator depth of a full starship and they're moving at a good clip."

Even as his words died, a remarkably unaccented voice cut across the bridge from the purported Texan science officer, "They're broadcasting a surrender message -- check that, now...Captain Anderson? Wh--oh, Immortal's CO. Uh, Captain Anderson is now on comms from the Tender?"

It'd all gone to shit so quickly and so...absolutely that Scylla had missed the opening move of this genocidal little chess match; all Leyton could think was what the hell is he doing THERE?

"Put him on, then," he waved at the viewscreen with a slightly bemused expression on his face. The viewscreen remained set to an external view, centered on the raped fleet tender, but a distorted audio feed crackled from hidden speakers.

Code:
"All ships stand down, hostilities are over. Arrange boarding parties for surrendering vessels those of you who can. Captain Khemera is in command until I return to the Immortal. I will do so when the tender is secure. Captain Cretak, status please?"


Well, boarding parties certainly doesn't mean us, and we weren't firing anyway...

"Broadcast to squadron over tacnet, Scylla maintaining point defense overwatch. Please provide notice prior to any small craft launches to avoid anything looking unpleasantly like a torpedo." Leyton paused for a few seconds, then nodded, "Also add that we are heavily oversupplied with engineers if anyone needs assistance with repairs or for salvage work."

At those last two words, many, many yellow-shirted figures around the bridge seemed to light up at the prospect of possibly getting to crawl around inside and disembowel such a prize.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 5:29 pm 
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Alpha Quadrant
Badlands, USS Gilgamesh


The sudden and violent explosion that erupted from the Romulan-made fleet tender rocked the much larger S'harien, sending it flying into the Gilgamesh, striking the compact destroyer in the belly. Had the Gilgamesh been a larger ship with extended parts, it would have been likely that both ships would have suffered shocking amounts of damage from the impact.

However, the Gilgamesh was a much smaller Defiant-class ship, and as it was, though the cargo and crew of both ships were shaken by the impact, no serious damage to either vessel resulted.

The crew of the Gilgamesh in particular were flung about as their ship was struck like a hockey puck. Even the bridge crew took a few moments to right themselves, and regain control of their ship, though bruises and broken bones were already at the top of the medical crews' lists of injuries.

Within less than a minute though, the Gilgamesh was righted, and en route to a defensive patrol of the S'harien, though at a somewhat greater distance than before.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 2:48 am 
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The Avenger did not have two minutes to prepare its weapons. It did not even have thirty seconds. Klingon EVA marines poured out of assault shuttles which then sealed the hull breaches with force fields. Several Orions had weapons in their hands or made threatening moves. The characteristic whine of disruptor bolts split the air and then the Orions were corpses or dispersing clouds of fast moving molecules.

Squad after squad sounded off with weapon systems secured and prisoners secured. Local defences were quickly improvised to enhance the Klingons capacity to defend their prizes from a pirate counter attack while the next wave of reinforcements moved to assist.

On board the Riskadh, Captain Kadon took the reports. "Deploy a platoon to locate and guard Captain Anderson," he ordered. "Have the Humbolt engage in perimeter scan in case our brawl has attracted attention. All other ships are to secure the area."

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Alpha Quadrant
Badlands, USS Gilgamesh


Once the Riskadh began to take charge of the Avenger, the message to the rest of the fleet was met on the bridge of the Gilgamesh with determined smirks.

The small Federation destroyer sent a quick acknowledgement to the Riskadh, and began performing wider patrols of the Badlands area, surveying and observing as they went.

Those very familiar with the Gilgamesh's energy readings however could note that the subtle differences in her energy readings associated with the Cometfall platform being online did not change, and was in fact still on hot standby.

Nonetheless, the small and nimble ship began performing textbook patrol maneuvers to secure the area, wary of any other threats or anomalies.

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USS Spectre
Battle Bridge


"Stand down, Yellow Alert," Captain Kirk said, still staring at the peeled hull of the FleetTender, mostly in admiration that it was still in one piece. "Check on the status of our passengers, make sure they're taken care of and reassured. I've a feeling Anderson will be having them transferred over to the 'Tender once we have it fully under our control."

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 3:52 am 
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"Incomming ordinance!" said the tactical officer as the point defense phasers missed a stray missile from the USS Spectre. The crew braced for impact just before a torpedo slammed into the Humboldt's port Nacelle, sending a shudder through the ship, but not penetrating the shields--even weakened around the nacelle's as they had to be in order to permit a stable warp field. Some sixty megatons of gamma rays, infared, and pi-mesons raked against the little ship, causing her rear shields to flare a bright blue.

"Damage report?" T'Lorn asked calmly. Inwardly, he was slightly angry. Did someone never teach Kirk how to keep her firing teams under control? In fact, did her computers simply not have updated targeting algorithms that would calculate the trajectory of nearby friendly craft and not have torpedoes move along an intercept course? That must be it, she is just behind on updates to her targeting software. He resolved to have that remedied.

"No damage, spalling damage minimal, bleed-through re-routed to capacitors, still waiting on casualty reports, aft shields at eighty two percent."

"Re-balance shields and reroute power to recharge"

Then he saw all the torpedoes that did not him his ship or the Riskadh slam into the unprotected hull while the S'harien and her satellite craft opened fire with eveything they could bring to bear.

"Helm!" he just managed to get off before the blast wave from sympathetic explosions hit his ship, sending it careening through space rotating violently on all three axes.

'Weeeeee' he thought to himself with a certain amount of resignation and sarcasm. There was no mirth in the thought, nor anger. His ship was small, and when you fight the borg and do field testing for weapon's systems--some of which are super--your ship getting thrown end-over-end through space is something you grow accustomed to, and everyone who would not have been strapped in were already in sickbay, or had taken the hint after the tricobald incident. As the universe spun around him, the inertial compensators brought the G forces from "instantly lethal" to "merely uncomfortable".

"Captain!" said the helmsman "Impulse drive is disabled, shield beleed through absorbed by capacitors"

"Do we have maneuvering thrusters?"

"Yes sir"

"Stabilize our rotation, science, tractor the Tender and stop our course" He pressed a button on his console "Engineering?"

A chief engineer who sounded somewhat annoyed even under the vulcan calm responded back

"That blast overloaded the engines as they attempted to compensate, blew through a power relay before emergency shut down. Give us ten to fifteen minutes"

...
Outside the ship, little maneuvering thrusters all over the ship kicked into life, first firing to halt rotation on the Y ans Z axes so that the ship could point her nose at the tender, only spinning like a top on her X axis. Then a beam of gravitons lanced out from the emitter and latched on to the still massive fleet tender's hulking mass, stopping the tiny little ship's un-guided flight through space. Finally, the thrusters managed to get the X axis rotation under control.

...

As LCARS console buttons beeped all over the bridge, something he had almost forgoten popped into his mind. The tender's shields had to be gone, which meant that the partially disabled S'harien was without defense from the plasma storms. The Riskadh had weakened shields, but enough to protect them, the Immortal was in similar condition...

"Communications, open a channel."

"This is the USS Humboldt, our impulse engines are disabled, require ten minutes for repair. Sensors indicate that the S'harien is currently without shields in a plasma storm. Repeat, the S'harien is without shields. USS Scylla or Barbarossa, please extend your shields around her, she does not have long before local conditions destroy her."

"We are getting a message from the Riskadh, they are ordering us to perform sensor overwatch"a voice came from somewhere on the other side of T'Lorn's awareness.

"Reactivate the probes, and comply with the order." he responded absently

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Alpha Quadrant
Badlands, USS Gilgamesh


With the tactical viewer still displaying all ships' telemetry, Commander Inzeti spoke up while the Gilgamesh was performing wider patrols. "Captain, there are many elements of the opposing fleet that have fled the theater, and are now proceeding undirected on their own."

"Thank you, Commander," Captain Solheim replied, catching a small smile from her before personally examining the spherical tactical viewer. After a few moments of study, he spoke up.

"Lieutenant-Commander Nevola, plot an intercept course to begin rounding up the strays," Captain Solheim said while studying the viewer. "Notify the Riskadh and the S'harien of our new mission."

Nodding in reply, Lieutenant-Commander Nevola remembered to mumble a "Yes, Captain" before going about her work.

Quote:
Turn Summary: Plotting intercept course to begin rounding up the ships of the opposing fleet that fled the field of battle. Notifying S'harien and Riskadh of mission change.

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USS Immortal

Lt. Summers found himself yet again suited up and planted in a shuttlecraft with a group of humans and Gorn. Sent out to secure the Cardassian freighter that well... led this to whole... huh... event. There was no resistance as they dock.

"Alright, stay in fireteams, disarm anyone you see, if anyone resists bag 'em. Medics will be inbound and I want this place frosty before then, you read me?" He said. A barking cheer was his reply.

The troops in void suits disembarked setting up a perimeter and spread into the ship.

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"Weapon systems are secure," said Aaveroke from the communications station. "Marines are holding entry points."

"Send in the second wave of Marines," ordered Kadon. "Securing Captain Anderson is the highest priority objective. Crew are to be secured, disarmed, and guarded."

"Captain," said Arikel. "The Avenger is taking damage from the plasma storm. Shields are nonfunctional. It will become critical unleash immediate action is taken."

"Aaveroke, signal the Vigilance to approach and extend its shields around the tender. It will be embarrassing to have our Marines return with Anderson's charred corpse."

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 1:34 pm 
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Yellow Alert.

That particular status had always enjoyed a certain darkly ironic double meaning aboard the Scylla. True, it meant that active combat operations have ended. It was also a signal for the ship's many, many damage control teams to get to work fixing the dozens of things that invariably broke on such a cobbled-together ship in combat. All those yellow-shirted damage control teams.

"Yellow alert...and a day off for the DC teams. That's a first."

Leyton tried to muffle a laugh into a cough at the Andorian woman's comment from the seat to his side. Lesschey's answering grin told him exactly how effective his attempt was. He replied with a sheepish grin that dissolved in an instant at a freshly-Texan call.

"Tender has lost shields--Humboldt is signalling us to extend."

Leyton's mouth opened to snap out an order only for another report to shortstop him.

"The Klingons are ordering the Vigilance to extend."

"That thing is too large, Vigilance won't be able to manage easily on her own. Close in and extend. Prepare to grapple with tractors to minimize the size of the shield to cover us at well. Auxiliary power to shields, Lesschey, contact Vigilance and get us synched properly."

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 5:25 pm 
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The Klingons encountered no resistance, or at least no resistance according to the Klingon definition of the word. Stunned and bleeding Orions (as well as a handful of other races) lay strewn about the stricken ship, many so badly wounded as to be unable to even notice that armed Klingons were storming about them. Those lightly or unhurt were mostly not inclined to contest the issue with a horde of battle-hardened Klingon space marines. The few who were so-inclined were dealt with appropriately.

Nearly a thousand Klingons poured aboard the Avenger with very little trouble. Embarkation points were hardly difficult to find, what with so much of the ship flayed open, and even had any of the senior officers been interested in organizing a defense, there were few forces in the galaxy remaining capable of repelling an assault by a re-enforced battalion of Klingon Imperial Marines, and none of them were aboard this ship. The sheer size of the vessel meant that even a thousand Klingons could not properly "secure" the entire thing, not at once, but that hardly seemed to matter now.

Of the thousand marines sent aboard, a good hundred were sent to the Avenger's primary command center. More a mobile space station than a starship, Artificitor-class vessels had no bridge per-se, but rather a command center, or rather four of them, buried deep within the vessel. The route was torturous, and more than once the Klingons found corridors crushed, plugged solid with debris, or vented to vaccuum, but of real resistance there was none. One or two of the surrendering Orions even offered directions.

And so it was that, some minutes after the end of the battle, the doors to the Avenger's command center opened, and a hundred Klingon battle marines poured into it. Shodar Tyran, sitting in his command chair, did not even raise his head as they entered, and none of the command crew attempted to stop them, backing instead away from the Klingons and dropping their remaining weapons onto the floor.

Tyran's only reaction to this sudden invasion by a Klingon army was to smirk and mutter, apparently to himself.

"Klingons," he said to nobody in particular. "Figures..."

With that, Shodar Tyran stood up, brushed the debris off of his clothing, and turned to Captain Anderson, ignoring for the moment the Klingon company commander.

"So, Commodore" he said. "Now what?"

*-----------------------------------------------------------------------------*

The scene aboard the Locarian Star was a bit different.

The human and Gorn marines entered the vessel without difficulty. Most of the guardships preventing access to it had been annihilated in the firefight and the few who were not had surrendered. The transports from Immortal had no trouble accessing the vessel.

Getting about inside was a different matter.

Locarian Star was a Groumall-class Cardassian Military Freighter, designed to carry bulk cargo of a thousand different varieties all across the Cardassian Empire. This was not the role that she was playing now, for as rapidly became clear to the Federation forces, Locarian Star was presently serving not as a freighter, nor even as a slave ship, but as a battlefield.

Complete chaos reigned aboard, gunfire echoing down every corridor and bulkhead, as armed men and women fought with one another, either in complete ignorance or complete indifference of the battle raging outside. Pirates, Orion and otherwise, fought with men and women and creatures nondescript of two dozen other races with hand phasers and disruptors, with knives and swords, and with their bare hands when all else failed. They did so in hallways and crew quarters and cargo bays and everywhere else that they could, scoring walls black with gunfire and all the colors of the rainbow with blood. Dead bodies and the critically wounded , Orion and otherwise, lay strewn about the ship in heaps, indifferent to anything but their own pain, or to nothing at all.

The shuttle-full of Human and Gorn troops did not attract much attention on a ship so thronged with combat. Aside from desultory shots that might well have been accidental, nobody even fired at them. In a ship filled with armed men locked in combat, nobody seemed to take much notice that another relative handful of armed men had suddenly appeared. Those immediately nearby were too busy killing one another. Those deeper into the ship had no means of knowing that further intruders had entered the fray.

Of all the chaos and disorder, only one bit of coherence could be discerned. A cry, made by Orions, echoing down the corridors, translated by the universal translators for the benefit of the newcomers.

"Get to the bridge! They're grouped up there! Kill 'em all!"

*-----------------------------------------------------------------------------*

It was like herding blind sheep in the middle of a thunderstorm. Dozens of ships had scattered in every which way into the badlands, looking for succor from the combat nearby. The reasons for which they had done this were probably as varied as the ships themselves, and didn't matter now. Some had stopped and some had moved on and on into the gloom, but most were not in a mood to fight.

Most.

The first four ships were easy to find. They would have been easy to find if the Gilgamesh had been an Antares freighter. Slow and plodding, they had as much chance of evading a Federation destroyer as they did of single-handedly defeating the Borg fleet, and none of them appeared to be interested in trying. Indeed, two of the ships seemed almost jubilant at having been found, as though the instant they had stepped into the fiery mists of the Badlands alone, they had regretted their rashness. A third's captain had plainly lost his mind, mistaking the Gilgamesh for the Avenger herself, screaming epithets and defiant refusal to be retaken by the pirates into her comm and ordering the Kobyrean Freighter to ram the destroyer. As mistaken identifications went, this was like mistaking a Vulcan field mouse for the planet Jupiter, but fortunately the bridge crew of the freighter managed to sedate their raging Captain before he could do anything untoward.

Gilgamesh did not have the best sensor systems in the fleet, and the Badlands were notorious for reducing sensors to hash anyway. As a result, as the destroyer, now hampered by the flock of straying sheep it had to keep within sensor range of, was trying to locate the inconstant signal of the fifth ship on their sensors, it found them.

With a torpedo.

There was literally no warning. The first indication that Gilgamesh received that she was under attack was when a photon torpedo exploded against her dorsal shields, followed a quarter second later by a barrage of disruptor bolts raining down on her top sections like hail. Only belatedly did the Gilgamesh'es sensors inform her that there was a ship above and behind her, one whose weapons were armed and locked and firing.

From a cloud of particulate plasma emerged the assailant, not one but two Klingon Birds of Prey, their Imperial sigils painted over in Orion pirate livery. The lead ship was firing, the wingman lining up a shot, their intentions clearly to dispatch this interloping Federation Destroyer and escape into the fires of the Badlands before the heavier allied ships could catch up.

The four stray vessels that Gilgamesh had found already did not spring upon the opportunity to join in assaulting the Federation ship. Indeed one of them, a spindly Tholian Gas Miner, fired her weak phasers in defense of the Gilgamesh, striking one of the Birds in her ventral flank with a shot that would barely have served to chip the paint even if the Bird of Prey had not been shielded. She was rewarded for her act of defiance with a pair of aft torpedoes that atomized everything forward of her midsection and sent the aft half of the ship spinning uncontrollably through space to be incinerated by a plume of the plasma storm. The other three vessels simply dove for the cover of a plasma flare, wholly unable to assist in a battle with real warships. Gilgamesh was on her own.

*-----------------------------------------------*

"No signal..."

"You had it a moment ago, where is he?!"

"I lost it sir, when the shooting started. It just... it just vanished."

The bridge fell quiet, tomb-like, as the sensor officer made the pronouncement. It remained that way until someone, an ensign at the communication station piped up.

"But... but he was aboard the S'harien, wasn't he?" asked the Ensign, looking from face to face as if for confirmation. "He... it has to be just interference or something, right?! I mean... he wasn't..."

Four long seconds passed before anyone spoke.

"Commander," said Lt. Luther, ignoring the question as it could only be ignored. "What are your orders?"

Lt. Commander Ereshal sat in the command chair staring at the viewscreen on which was displayed the ruined Tender and the Romulan Battlecruiser that had broken her. She did not respond instantly, but ultimately found the wherewithal to answer.

"Contact the S'harien," she said, "and ask them to find Commander Kalpov and get him back to us."

Luther was hoping nobody would ask the obvious question, but the sensor officer did.

"And... if he's not aboard S'harien, sir?"

"Then he'll be on board that Tender, and we'll have to wait for the Klingons to find him."

Nobody commented on the fact that the likelyhood of Kalpov being on board the Avenger was essentially zero. Nobody commented because nobody needed to, and because nobody wanted to be the one to suggest the more likely case...

*---------------------------------------------------*

Plasma storms were terribly dangerous at the best of times, but even the Badlands, the worst plasma storm known to Starfleet, did not kill everything that entered it. Ignoring for a moment the protective qualities of shields, plasma storms worked in eddies and gusts, much like terrestrial ones. Pillars of flame and three million degree plasma would kill anything unshielded that they touched, but they did not touch everything, nor even a majority of things that were in their vicinity. Like the space around it, much of a plasma storm was open void, and while open void was hardly danger-free, it had certain advantages. Empty space could not conduct heat, and thus a tongue of plasma could pass right by an object and barely raise its surface temperature a degree. Large objects like starships could only avoid the plasma for so long, of course, as eventually a gust or eddy or tongue of flame would lash against it and melt the ship into a glob of liquefied metal. But a very small object, as long as it did not ride its luck long enough, might well avoid the worst of the plasma storms.

Such was the case with one object.

The object was small, very small by the standards of the ships around it, roughly man-sized and comprised of materials that no sensor could quite get the hang of, a complex mish-mash of carbon and hydrogen and silicon and what appeared to be nearly every other element on the table. It was small, and vaguely amorphous, neither solid nor liquid but some form of vaguely fluidic substance that absorbed most of the sensor beams aimed at it. As such, it was almost impossible to detect at all, particularly given the plasma interference, save that one ship, the Empyrean, just happened to pass right by it on the way back to the fleet, and her advanced sensors got enough of a reading to trigger. When the Empyrean's sensor operator looked to see what it was, two things stood out, neither of which were to be expected from a random body of unidentifiable matter floating aimlessly in empty space. For one thing, the object, whatever it was, was giving off extremely vague but yet still identifiable lifesigns, detectable only with difficulty, but unquestionably present.

And somehow, though how this was even possible could not be determined, buried somewhere within the object was something emitting a Federation transponder signal.

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


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